CMJ Fader Fort: Will Fiat Stay Committed?
CMJ Fader Fort: Will Fiat Stay Committed?

After a relatively low-key, title sponsor-free 2010, the Fader Fort is returning to CMJ next week with a host of new partners. Presenting sponsor Fiat steps in for longtime sponsor Levi's, continuing its sponsorship from this year's South By Southwest Fort in Austin. Vevo has signed on as the event's online streaming partner, showcasing on-demand concerts from key performances throughout the two-day festival and the following week. Pepsi, Palladium Boots, Budweiser and Bushmill's Irish Whiskey will also sponsor the event and be featured in on-site activations.

Fader Fort by Fiat is nearing the end of a one-year sponsorship cycle, with Fiat's contract up for renewal at the end of October. Neither Chrysler, Fiat's parent company, nor Fader would comment about plans for 2012, but a look at Fiat's balance sheet would suggest a shift in strategy may be likely. Despite a splashy summer ad campaign and a high-profile partnership with Jennifer Lopez, the Fiat brand has been hit with low awareness and poor sales, selling just 11,088 units through August - far short of the 40,000 full-year goal former Fiat head Laura Soave set for the brand, according to Automotive News.

The car company also parted ways with ad agency Impatto Custom Marketing in September, a marketing firm that was involved with this year's SXSW Fader Fort. The new TV ad campaign was co-created by ad agency Doner, while event-marketing firm Relevent will help execute the CMJ Fader Fort by Fiat.

The first Fader Fort by Fiat at SXSW in March was nominated for an Integrated Online Campaign award by OMMA Magazine, citing the event's success in reaching 1.3 million listeneres on Sirius Radio through artist interviews and over 340 million media impressions across the event's iPad app, iPhone application and live Myspace performances. The previous Fader Fort by Levi's in 2010 took home an Entertainment/Music Award OMMA Award for its live and online components.

Fader publisher Andy Cohn told Billboard.biz that he continues to appreciate commitment to discovery in art, film, fashion and music, which was a key part of the brand's positioning after the U.S. launch kicked off in the spring. "Just as the dealers started to get cars, they would do experiential stuff, more grassroots and experience-oriented. They were and are a really good fit for Fader's mission statement," he said.

As for the music, early confirmed bands include Metronomy, Purity Ring, Fat Trel and King Krule, with additional performers and headliners to be announced over the next few days on the Fader's Twitter feed and Facebook page. Previous Fader Fort performers at SXSW and CMJ have included Kanye West, Diddy, Florence + the Machine, Feist, Cold War Kids, Best Coast and Kid Cudi, among others.

Vevo, which has live-streamed major festivals from Bonnaroo to Coachella, will not be live-streaming any Fader Fort by Fiat performances, opting instead for an on-demand model. "I'm still not convinced anybody cares - is there really a critical mass for emerging music?" Cohn says frankly of live-streaming costs. "There's a lot of bandwidth, and with those kind of infrastructure charges you can't really monetize against it."

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